Having recently reviewed the promo-album by Swedish doomsters Signo Rojo that really impressed. Steve Fallows had a chat with bassist / vocalist Jonas Nilsson to find out more about this up and coming band.

For the uninitiated, how would you describe Signo Rojo? What are the origins of the band?

Signo Rojo is a doom/sludge metal band from Karlshamn in southern Sweden (don’t let the “southern” part fool you, this place is cold as hell) that got together in the late autumn of 2009. It consists of Jonas Nilsson (Vocals and Bass), Elias Mellberg (Guitar), Hampus Henningsson (Guitar) and Pontus Svensson (drums). We met at a local show here in Karlshamn and soon discovered we shared a love for crushingly heavy and aggressive music so starting a band together was a no-brainer. Elias and Pontus had had a couple of projects going from before and therefore had a rehearsal space ready so we got straight in and started writing music and “get to know” one another musically immediately. We soon had a live set together and went about looking for gigs. In the autumn of 2010 we started recording six of our song and in true DIY-fashion did everything ourselves and the result is the promo-album that we are whoring around all over the interwebz as we speak.

Where does the name come from?

Here is where I would love to come up with some dark and mysterious tale of where the name came from (“I had a vision of a man who came unto us on a flaming pie and said -You are Signo with a Rojo! and so we were…”) but in all honesty it was a name that Elias had used for one of his “home projects” and we all thought it sounded cool so we used it. It means “Red sign” in Spanish.

The description of the area you live being a ‘pale nothing’ sounds similar to where I live, quite bleak. Do your surroundings influence your music at all?

Yes, I mean I am certain that your surroundings influence you whatever you do and wherever you are in some fashion and coming from a land where you hardly ever see the sun for almost half the year is bound to get to you in some way.

What do you think is the reason that Scandinavia produces so many decent extreme acts? Do you have any recommendations for other new bands?

I think that might very well be related to the previous question, having to spend half the year in freezing conditions with close to no sunlight for weeks on end you have to occupy yourself with something. Either you smoke/drink yourself silly, hibernate, go into seasonal depression or you try to do something creative. We all chose the latter, as have many others evidently and our creative output is of course influenced by our surroundings so that’s why Scandinavia is such prolific proponents of the darker and aggressive art forms if you ask me. Or, we could all just be privileged suburban white kids lashing out at our parents, I’m not sure…

As for recommendations there are plenty! Our drummer Pontus also plays bass in NYMF, a stoner/doom-band who recently released their debut album on Transubstans records and who share a rehearsal space with us and with stoner rockers THE GRAVIATORS who recently toured Europe with Saint Vitus and released their latest record on a beautiful gate-fold vinyl. KONGH is another great Swedish band that plays post-metal/sludge that has two kickass records out. MOLOKEN is another band that also plays similar music to us that are releasing a new album soon and then there’s MALUM who we’re doing a couple of gigs with now in April here in Sweden, an excellent live band! ROSVO are another couple of friends of ours who are working on an album and have snared none other than “The Haunted” frontman Peter Dolving on lead vocals! There are many great bands over here and I’m afraid this would be a novel if I were to name each one so I’ll stop myself there.

What do the individual members bring to the band when writing and recording?

Every member of the band writes and we all have very different styles of writing that luckily gel very well together. One member may come in to rehearsal with a riff and immediately spark someone else’s imagination and just 30 minutes in to rehearsal we have the skeleton of a new song. There is no better feeling in the world than playing a new and brutally heavy song  all the way through the first time in the rehearsal space bar seeing a crowd getting really into it in a live situation. It’s the most fun you can have with your pants down…. crap… I think I may have given away a bit more about our rehearsals than I should have…

Your new promo-album seems to be getting some really good reviews, did you expect word to travel so far this soon?

Not really, the album was originally only recorded as to have something to apply for gigs with and to have something to showcase on the web as we didn’t have any other promotional material (a couple of rehearsal room recordings of questionable quality were made, the less said about them the better). During the end of the process I may have become a little over-enthusiastic though and begun franticly mailing the promo around to various sites and put up a blog post saying that anyone who helped us spread the word about the promo-album would get a free downloadable copy and we were overwhelmed with the response! Especially considering the rough production and mixes on the album, there has been a great response all over the world and it gives us quite an optimistic view of the near future.

Have the reviews affected you plans for the coming months? What is on the horizon for Signo Rojo?

In the immediate future we have a bunch of gigs here in Sweden in April/May and are continuously booking new ones as they come along. We are also getting some new mixes of the promo-album that a friend is doing for us and are putting together a physical release that we’ll try to send around to try to find some label/promoter/agency that wants to work with us.  We are hoping to record some new material soon as well as we have written a lot of new material since recording the promo-album that frankly, according to us, blows those songs out of the water. Heavy, heavy stuff! Also we’ll continue playing every venue that’ll have us, trying to stir up some interest for the band.

It sounds that the busy work ethic the band lives could mean a lot of touring? Can we expect to see the band over in the UK at any time soon?

We would love to come over to the UK sometime soon, there aren’t any plans right now but if we get in touch with the right people I’m sure we could make something happen. We have our sights set on a lot of touring in the near future. We are working really hard on getting the word out there and building interest for the band far and wide. With that in mind I would like to wholeheartedly thank you guys for helping us do that by giving underground acts such as us exposure through your site! Cheers guys!

Signo Rojo – MySpace page